Mother of 4 children killed in Conyers blaze speaks publicly for first time

It’s the silence that haunts Reeba Glass most.

“The quietness .. hurts my ears,” said the Conyers mother in her first public comments since the Jan. 8 house fire that claimed four of her children, ages 8 months to 9 years old. “Everything reminds me of them – cooking, cleaning …”

Glass, still recovering from burns sustained to more than 40 percent of her body, spoke with the media Tuesday prior to a ceremony by the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners honoring the two brothers — Richard Slater, 20, and Lamonta Stroud, 18 — who tried to save their four young neighbors.

Glass appeared with her mother, the only survivors of the fire besides her 6-year-old son. Rockdale officials concluded that the fire was started by the boy, who had been playing with a lighter in the upstairs hallway of the family’s duplex while his mother and siblings slept in two adjacent bedrooms. He was not charged criminally.

“I just remember seeing smoke,” said Glass, who was awakened by the 6-year-old. “I remember grabbing him before starting to feel like I was going to pass out.”

She said there was no smoke detector upstairs. The one downstairs, where her mother was sleeping, didn’t work.

As she screamed for help outside, Slater and Stroud were already en route to the burning house, where they could see 9-year-old Ah’Dariya’s face pressed against a second-story window.

“We begged her to jump, but she wouldn’t,” Slater said.

By then the smoke had enveloped the modest duplex.

“It was big. It was powerful. No one could beat it,” Slater said.

Glass thinks about the fire every day. She’s tried to make sense of the tragedy.

“It’s God’s work, it’s hard to say that, but it’s God’s work,” she said. “You can’t question that.”

She has strong memories of each deceased child, like Ah’Dariya’s sweet smile and 8-month-old Deon’s playful smirk. Dar’shawn, 7, was “momma’s little man,” Glass recalled. Three-year-old Armoni, “her protector.”

She tells their brother his siblings are with God, “in a better place.”

“They left me with you and you with me to go on in this world,” Glass said.